AsSahiliya Area In Tripoli Overwhelmed With Mercenaries
In the Arab League countries we are now seeing domino effect as popular uprisings, enabled by modern communications technology, overthrow nasty dictatorships. In each case, Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrain there has been violence but in Libya we are seeing something different.
President Gaddafi does not want to go and is playing extreme hard ball to try and stay in power, even though this is now impossible. He cannot accept the reality of the situation. He is in deepest denial.
So he tells his military to use combat weaponry against unarmed protesters (as also happened in Bahrain) and some do, but others refuse to. So Gaddafi then sets the bits of his military that are loyal to him up against the bits that aren’t and we have a civil war. He has a presidential guard who are close and loyal, he also has flown in large numbers of African mercenaries. And the airforce seems to be much on his side, except for the two pilots who defected to Malta. So we have aircraft and helicopters shooting up civilians and bits of the army.
So one good thing that the West could do right now is keep the Libyan airforce out of the air and to stop the mercenaries from being flown in. We have the resources and ability to easily do this. So we should.
Unlike the other domino countries Libya is deeply tribal, ask any Libyan and he will tell you what tribe he is from. So what happens next will largely be in the hands of tribal leaders. We could have an ongoing civil war, or an Iraq situation, a theocracy or there is even the very slight chance of getting a democracy. This last possibility is somewhat enhanced by the power of the interwebs, people now have the individual power that comes from knowledge.
There is a lesson for the West out of all these events and that is that we should not cosy up to obnoxious regimes, no matter how convenient it may be. The Arab dictatorships have been propped up by the West for one very simple reason. Oil. Our democratic governments prefer to deal with dictatorships because they are seen as being more stable than democracies. In other words our politicians have actively aided the suppression of democracy in a misguided attempt to secure our energy supplies. Which means that we have blood on our hands.
If we are to learn from this lesson then we need a massive shift in policy. Obnoxious dictatorships should be treated as the pariahs that they are, no matter how much oil lies beneath their sand. We should align our interests with those of the suppressed populations. Obviously there is no chance of this ever happening, but even a slight shift in attitudes would have a major effect. Supplying dictatorships with tear gas, rubber bullets and helicopter gunships, as we do now, must surely become a thing of the past.